We are delighted to report than during July the highest number of butterflies ever recorded for that month were spotted. The species were:-
Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Green Veined White, Hedge Brown, Small Skipper, Holly Blue, Small White, Essex Skipper, Large White, Peacock, Marbled White, Painted Lady, Common Blue, and Speckled Wood.
The Jersey Tiger, Hummingbird and Hawkmoth species of moths were also seen.
The amount of volunteer work on the open space has been limited since the completion of the new pond project in 2016. Once again the growth pattern, which is, of course, governed by weather conditions, has been rather similar to last year, except that the recent very hot weather has been quite prolonged, combined with some very heavy rainfall at times during the spring. The height of the shrubs, grassland, and wildflowers in the areas not cut is substantial and two examples of this are shown in the photographs below.
The pond area in the second week of July
The hillside area between the Bourne road and Highbanks close entrances
The open space has generally been kept fairly tidy thanks to the help of the council contractors who have done all the cutting, strimming and most of the litter picking although a little of this has been carried out by some of the volunteers. The following picture gives an idea of the general state of the site at the moment.
An update on other aspects of progress and developments is given in the lizard project, surveys and the pond project.
The Autumn and Winter of 2016/17 has so far been fairly quiet and uneventful with little unusual activity or rare species noted. Drone flying which took place at one stage during 2016 seems to have been eliminated following consultation with council officers and a polite warning issued to the individuals concerned who did not appreciate that the land was owned by Bexley Council.
The complete drying up of the two new ponds during the Summer was somewhat disappointing and the survey mats put out to ascertain reptile numbers was, in practice, virtually impossible to complete due to the excessively rapid growth conditions caused by the very erratic changes in the weather during the summer. Here are some of the Autumn/Winter photos taken.
January 2017 (small pond nearest the boardwalk)
January 2017 (larger pond – still dry)
The Autumn equinox has passed and it’s 23rd September with the temperature today at 21 degrees Centigrade. The open space has been relatively dry over the last month or so and the Council’s contractors have now been able to carry out a cut and clear operation in the last couple of days, taking away about one third of the natural grassland. Here are two examples of the finished work at the northern area stretching from the Highbanks entrance to the slopes overlooking the site where the new ponds have been created.
Clearance from the Highbanks entrance
Looking south west towards the pond area
After clearance many birds – magpies, crows, blackbirds and green woodpeckers, have taken full advantage of the cut and been feeding on a variety of insects which were previously using the shelter of the long grass for cover. There are still butterflies around including some large and small whites and the odd speckled wood. The following were also found in the boardwalk area.
The constantly changing weather this year has created problems for the grass cutting regime particularly in the last three months and the growth has been abnormally rapid at times. The wildlife, however, has not suffered and there have been encouraging signs of bird and butterfly activity during the spring and summer. Currently it is warm and very dry and the photos taken this week on 22nd August show the current state of the site with the grasses and shrubs unusually high.
Looking west towards the ponds
The view north towards the boardwalk
wildflowers (and, unfortunately, ragwort!)
Th family fun/planting day was successfully completed and a full report on the event plus photographs is given in the Pond Project section of the website.
Froglife have supplied a number of survey mats which have been distributed to various locations on the open space and fuller details of this monitoring of the reptile population are given in our survey section of the website (with photographs).
A new temporary resident! A female Mallard quite well camouflaged.
We are pleased to announce that Froglife are planning their Spring family/planting day at the pond site near the lower Glenmore Road entrance to the open space on Saturday 7th May from 11am to approximately 4pm. Froglife are asking for help and support from local residents, schools and other volunteers. Everyone who is interested in wildlife conservation is welcome to come along and enjoy the experience.
There will be free drop-in amphibian and reptile themed children’s craft activities under a gazebo plus a self-guided nature trail with information to take away. This is a wonderful practical and educational opportunity for young people to help and learn at the same time! Further details will be announced during the month.
On Saturday afternoon, 2nd April, some of us visited the boardwalk and pond areas following the storm earlier in the week to see how the open space had fared during the battering. We notice another three trees damaged by the winds but apart from this there was plenty of evidence that spring is well on the way – birds singing, frog spawn in the ditch and the emergence of a few wildflowers in the board walk. Here are samples of what we found:-
Frog Spawn and Tadpoles in the stream
The first photograph shows lesser celandine
During the winter months dramatic changes have been made in and around the board walk and pond areas. The digging out of the two new ponds was completed shortly before Christmas, a new fence was constructed around them and a number of trees felled with the resultant logs from the cutting down being left on site to create shelter for the wildlife. The ponds are currently full of water and there is a considerable amount of frog spawn around the edges. Arrangements for planting the area are currently being made.
During visits to the open space in this period we have seen a hedgehog and, on some days, a variety of wild birds including blackbirds, robins, song thrushes, long tailed tits and more recently, a green finch. Unfortunately without the aid of a zoom lens it was not possible to capture some of these sightings – the green finch is just about visible above the wall in the centre of the photo below.
The new ponds as they look at the beginning of March are shown in the following picture.
Our last view is taken near the cemetery wall looking south towards the Green Chain Walk and board walk giving a general impression of the current state of the open space.